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Let Sleeping Lions Lie - Chapter 6

by BobCurby 

Posted: 21 December 2007
Word Count: 6080
Summary: This chapter describes the worst day in my life. The chapter starts with my stay in a hotel on Angelsey during which time I recall the day I was lost deep down a cave without and lights, along with four dead bodies. The story is partly from my recollections along with any details I could get from my friends and the rescuers later on.
Related Works: Let Sleeping Lions Lie - Chapter 1 • Let Sleeping Lions Lie - Chapter 2 • Let Sleeping Lions Lie - Chapter 3 • Let Sleeping Lions Lie - CHAPTER 4 • Let Sleeping Lions Lie - Chapter 5 • Let Sleeping Lions Lie {SUMMARY/ SYNOPSIS} • 

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Chapter Six – LOST!
I rolled out of the very comfortable king-size bed and headed for the bathroom, flicking the light switch as I did so. It was just 6 a.m. on a beautiful September morning in 2001, and I had another day of talking, watching and analyzing ahead of me. When I had checked into the Bulkley Hotel it was dark and I hadn’t taken in much of the surroundings, now it was getting quite light and I almost couldn’t resist the urge to peak out of the curtains to see what was around, but I remained firm in my earlier resolve not to look until I was ready to fully open the curtains. I stepped into the small room, closed the door and had my shower. The hotel stands near a Lifeboat Station on the coast in North Wales and looks out across very treacherous waters. There are caves nearby and I wished I wasn’t working – I’d love to get down there and have a nose around.

As I showered, the idea of the nearby caves made me take another journey back into my years in the wilds of Central Africa. The memories became vivid to me as I relived the day that had to be the worst day of my life, trapped deep into some caves. I would have been about 16 and had my first motorcycle – well a scooter at least, an Italian one, 125cc with four gears. I had ridden over to see a couple of school friends on a Sunday morning and they had told me of a trip planned for the afternoon, down nearby potholes. I returned home, told my parents I was going to town, but then returned to my friends and set off to the east, to the Mulawanani caves. I reflected on this as I rinsed off the soap, why did mislead my parents, why didn’t I tell them where I was going? That lie nearly cost me my life; that’s why I didn’t tell them. They wouldn’t have let me go.

I was still thinking about this as I shaved and dressed. That was a bad day. I did some stupid things in my life – but this one took number one slot. My friends were equally stupid.

Just then I had a phone call, I glanced at my watch, it showed 6:10 a.m. It was Reception with my wake up call, booked for 6, a bit late, but never mind as I was already up and dressed. I made my way down the stairs to the restaurant for breakfast. The smell of coffee, toast, smoked fish and bacon, mixed and wafting, met my nostrils. Mmm, breakfast was going to be good. I parked my thoughts about the caves to give it my undivided attention.

Leaving the hotel, I glanced towards the red sandstone cliffs and the dark blotches down near the water-line. I laughed; the cliffs looked like they had a leering smile. I strode quickly to my small silver car, and was soon driving on the main road, and preparing mentally for the day's work. I automatically glanced in the rear view mirror, noted the cars that were following, and repeated this every time I changed direction or took a different road. This had been my standard procedure for several years, taking care that I was not followed for that could mean one of several things, from just a coincidence to someone who knew my routine and had a commission to put me out of action. Today, there was nothing to alarm me, and soon I was turning into the secure unit at Holyhead, my place of work for that day. My job involved sensitive and risky matters that would seriously jeopardise national security if mishandled. It exhausted me, but I enjoyed it.

As the work day ended, I would reverse the procedure and return to my hotel, always recalling any cars that had followed me in the morning. If the same car appeared on my return journey, I would suddenly pull into a lay-by and stop, then turn around and go back to the beginning of the journey. On the journey out that morning, after the third change of road, I had noted that a maroon coloured small car of German manufacture had followed me and had turned right when I turned left. Now it was there again, following me about 100 metres behind. I held my speed and position on the road, noted that a sign advised of a lay-by 200 metres ahead. As it approached I didn't indicate that I was going to stop, and when less than 20 metres from the small parking space, I slowed a little, and then dipped into the lay-by when it was almost too late to stop. The following car continued on. I made the U-turn and retraced my route, stopped there for several minutes, and then drove round the block to return to my chosen route. No car followed me, and no-one joined on later either. I looked at myself in the mirror.
"You ARE your Dad, d'you know that!?"

I laughed and parked up in the hotel car park. In a few minutes I was back in my room, preparing for a shower and the evening ahead. Wrapped in a towel, I allowed my gaze to slowly traverse the scene outside, and remembered the caves. I recalled that I had been thinking about the Mulawanani caves in Zambia. I have my own recollections of what happened that day coupled with the details of what happened up on the surface recounted to me by my friend Paul whilst I was being checked over by medics. That Sunday afternoon had started out as a mini-adventure for a few teenagers; I had met up with Paul, three close friends and some others I didn't know. I mainly went along because Paul had a sister Dilly, and I fancied her. She was my pillion passenger as we rode on our motorbikes to the shallow hills. I felt a little excited, not by the prospect of going into the caves, but rather by the embrace of Dilly's arms about my waist as she strove to remain on the back of the bike.

It took us about half an hour to get to the caves, or potholes more accurately, for they went almost straight down. I deliberately drove a little recklessly and took corners very tightly, so that Dilly would hold on even tighter, sometimes I would brake a little harder so that her whole body was forced hard against my back. I would rather have done that all day than go down the pothole.

"We have a fine range of fresh fish tonight sir." The waitress interrupted my trip to the caves.
"Thank you, I'll look at the list - anything in particular you recommend?"
"The pan fried Tuna is very good, the chef has his own special sauce for that, and it comes with a rocket salad and Dauphinoise potatoes."
"That'll do nicely - I'll have the soup to start."
"Very good sir."
She was soon through the doors to the kitchen. I looked around the dining room, I was the only one in, but then it was only six thirty. It was tastefully decorated and had fresh flowers on every table. I looked out of the window. Ah, the caves…ah yes, now we teenagers were on our way to the Mulawanani caves on our bikes, Dilly warmly cuddled up behind me. I remembered that with a touch of sadness.

We parked up, locked our bikes and prepared to descend into the caves. Dilly shivered and instinctively clung to my arm, I liked that. She was only fifteen, and I was sixteen, but she could easily have passed for seventeen. I smiled encouragingly and squeezed her hand.
"You'll be O.K., don't worry!"
"Will you look after me?"
"You can be sure!"
"Hoya Dilly, c'mon don't hang about!"
I scowled as Carlos; an almost eighteen-year-old part Spanish boy grabbed Dilly's hand and dragged her off to the dark mass that was the mouth of the cave labyrinth. She laughed and ran with him, forgetting almost immediately her last words to me. I in turn went to call out, but changed my mind as my heart dropped and I sighed as I plodded along after them to the edge of the hole.

Once inside the cave mouth there was very little light, just a shaft of sunlight on one wall; then a few feet more and it was very dark. We had tied our main rope to a stump at the top and made the steep descent one at a time, I was almost last, followed by Pete.

Paul was at the bottom of the shaft, about a dozen or so metres down from the top and he handed torches to those dropping off the rope as we reached him.
"You'll need these, there are spare batteries in the handle, but even so, use sparingly - just when we need to, o.k.?"
I dropped off the rope and held out my hand.
"There's only one torch left Rob, and as Pete is taking up the rear I want him to take it, you stick with Carlos and Dilly and you'll be fine." I grunted a reply. No-one could see my face which was just as well, I looked like thunder. I wanted to be the one with Dilly, holding her hand, having her squeeze me when she became frightened, not Carlos. I hardly knew Carlos, but suddenly, I hated him. To make matters worse, I wasn’t going to have a torch.

No torch. What if I needed to cross a narrow ledge or something and had to rely on reflected light from in front or behind. I was in two minds to go back and go home, but Pete tapped my shoulder and shone the torch at my feet. He pointed to the second rope tied to a rock outcrop. "Off you go, follow Dilly."
I followed.

"Your soup sir, and the chef asks how you would like the Tuna steak, he usually sears it on a griddle and then pan fries for a few minutes a side, it's quite well done."
"That is just how I like it, that will be fine, thanks." I broke a piece of my roll and took a sip of soup as my mind returned once again to the cave expedition of 1965.

The floor descended at roughly a seventy five degree angle, and was full of holes where the limestone had been washed away, leaving harder igneous rock behind and occasionally there were outcrops of rock that needed to be negotiated. About 100 metres down in levelled off to a gentle slope that no longer required the rope. Paul tied off the end round one of the smaller outcrops and placed a small fluorescent tag on the end of it so that even without torches we could find it to return to the surface. He then gently made his way along the slope with the rest of us in tow. He stopped on a flat area and called back, "Hey everyone, come here slowly, you need to see this."

As we all caught up and stopped beside him, he swung his powerful hunting lantern so that its beam sprayed across the expanse before us. It looked like a black hole, an abyss perhaps. Not one of us wanted to take another step without checking it out.
Paul reached down and picked up a stone about the size of a golf ball and threw it out into the middle of his light beam. Everyone expected to hear a muffled thud somewhere below, but instead there was a splash, and the black expanse became a shimmering light display as the ripples broke its surface. A lake, it was water.
"It's a lake!" I said
"Yes, and what's more, it an acid lake, watch - " and he drew out of his pocket a small bag, took something from it and tossed it into the lake. A reaction similar to that of bicarbonate of soda in water started immediately and we could see the bubbles fizzing and popping.
"What was that?" I asked
"One of my marbles"
"No, real marble, calcium carbonate - that's hydrochloric acid, like we have in our stomachs."
"Aha bat's guano - more likely to contain nitric acid," piped up Pete, the chemistry wizard amongst us, "concentrated nitrates and nitrites from their droppings added to filtered rain water, and their pee, nitric acid."
"Whatever acid it is, it's not nice!" Dilly added her piece.
"Go on dip your toe and see!" Carlos laughed as he pushed her a little forward.
"Don't be stupid man!" I retorted angrily, "You look after Dilly, don't play stupid games with her and that stuff, o.k.?"
"O-o-oo-ooweh!" Teased Carlos back, and I wanted to push his cocky face into that lake, but contented myself with adding, "Just you be careful."

"C'mon everyone, this way" called Paul and set off on a ledge that skirted the lake.
For several more minutes we moved on downwards and eastwards, stopping now and then so that Paul could consult the commercial map of the caves he had brought along, then off again, turning into side tunnels occasionally. We must have been well over a mile, maybe more, into the labyrinth when Paul suddenly stopped again.

"How was the soup sir?" The waitress was before me again and I realised I’d eaten the bowl of soup and its accompanying roll mechanically. I couldn't remember what it tasted like or what it had been, so engrossed was I in the vivid memory.
"It was delicious, thank the chef."
"Your main course will be a couple of minutes," the waitress remarked as she collected the plates and spoon. I smiled and nodded, and immediately returned to the darkness of the cave, where the group had all stopped behind Paul.

"What's up?" someone asked.
Paul didn't answer; he was looking down at the floor of the cave. As the rest of us caught up, we too looked into the circle of light from the lamp. On the floor of the cave were four bodies, humans, partly decomposed. One had no arms, another had one leg missing, and one was headless.
Dilly threw up immediately.
"Go back! Go back, NOW!" Paul commanded.
Everyone turned around and swiftly headed back down the tunnel, it was hard going as it was a still quite an incline as well as narrow. Someone started running, others, scared and approaching panic, did likewise. Pete flew past me like he was on roller skates - he didn't want to be rear guard anymore! I stumbled and placed my hands on the floor to steady myself, it was sticky, felt like oil. I smelled my hands. They stank. It was congealing blood. I heard the steps of the others ahead of me, fainter than they should be. I had no torch. It was very dark. I ran on, hoping to catch them, my imagination conjuring up all kinds of pursuing monsters.

Suddenly, in the pitch darkness I ran into one of the igneous rock outcrops protruding from the sidewall, banging my temple with some force. Down I went like a bag of sand, flat out onto the smelly wet floor of the cave.

"Your Tuna sir, the vegetables are just coming, my colleague has them. Is there anything else you'd like?"
"Yes, a small jug of tap water please, with ice."
"Certainly sir, enjoy your meal."
Unconsciously I was rubbing the side of my head, as if I could still feel the pain from that collision with the rock over forty years previous.

How long I lay on the ground I didn't know, but when I regained awareness of my position there was silence. No voices, no steps, no-one running back to find out where I was. In fact, I didn't know it then but Paul related later that my friends never stopped until they were up and out into the sunshine. To say that I was scared would be an understatement of fact. I was terrified. All kinds of thoughts were racing through my head. What if the bodies were people, who, just like us, were exploring the caves and then got attacked by some cave-dwelling flesh eater? What if it was stalking me right now?

I put out my hand to feel for the wall. It pressed upon something warm and very furry.
I yelled out involuntarily, and a thousand bats suddenly took off, flying about my head and shrieking and squeaking their way up the tunnel.
I was a little relieved to know that it was just a bat.

Feeling my way down the tunnel, I came to a very small cave. I didn't remember this one. I made my way round its walls, carefully feeling the floor with my foot, listening for any hissing sound which would alert me to the fact that my shoe leather contacted acid. There were at least six tunnels out of the cave, some on the level, others ascending. I tried one that went up, it led nowhere. There was still no sign of the others. I called out periodically just in case they were nearby. I had no response.
After passing through and testing out several caves without success, I realised that I was now lost, underground, in the dark with the possibility of attack by some awful cave-dwelling monster. Resisting the urge to scream and run blindly, I looked at the luminous face of my watch. Two hours had passed. I knew that up above it would be dark in another two, then perhaps a further two would pass and my Dad would be ringing round my friends to try and find out why I wasn't home yet. I decided to find a small cave with only two tunnels and sit with my back to a wall and wait. It took another fifteen minutes before I achieved that objective. Now at least I could feel a little safer, I don’t know why I imagined that, but only having two tunnels instead of six somehow lessened odds.

I learned later from Paul that it took about twenty minutes for the others to emerge from the caves, and another ten minutes before a thousand bats emerged. It was this spectacular sign that somehow told them I was still down there, and still alive. Paul gave me the gist of what went on above ground while I was blundering around in the dark, the conversation and events are more or less as he related them.
"I think we should go back and look for Rob!" Dilly said
"Don't be crazy! You saw those bodies, they got him too by now…."
"You're a coward Carlos, well if YOU won't go, I WILL!" Dilly started to climb down the rope.
"Wait Dilly" called Paul, "That's not the best way, if he is alive down there, he must have taken a wrong tunnel, there are hundreds of them - we should get the emergency services I think".
With that Pete was on his bike and on the throttle. In just a few minutes he was out of sight and his engine noise just a distant sound.

"Would you like something from the sweet trolley?" Once again I was dragged back to the present; I was sweating and took more of the ice water.
"No thanks, just coffee please."
The restaurant had filled up, at least twenty tables were in use and there was quite a lot of chatter. I had been oblivious to this, so vivid was my recollection of that terrible day at Mulawanani. I remembered once again how my friend Paul recounted everything that had happened whilst I was lost in the darkness of a deep cave. After they had discovered I wasn't with them, Pete had ridden off to alert the Police and Rescue services from a phone in a farm a few miles away.

An hour passed without any change in the situation, the others had begun to wonder if Pete had just got scared and gone home. Suddenly Paul jumped up, he could hear Pete's bike, and in less than five minutes he was back with them, closely followed by a dark blue Landrover with 'Rescue Services' emblazoned on each door.
"Leave it to us, we'll find him, you should get off home now, your parents will be wondering where you are."
"We'll stay" replied Dilly, realising that she loved me, that the strange feeling she had when I was around was more than just because I’d been a friend of the family for a long time. She was in love. Now she began to cry.
Carlos put his arm around her shoulders.
"Get away from me you creep!"
"Dilly, I . . ."
"You, you would have left him, I hate you!"
"Aw c'mon, it's just the dark and the fright getting to you…"
"You don't understand do you numbty? My sister LOVES Rob, she's worried sick about him!"
"Oh, er, I …." Carlos walked off a few yards, looking back at Dilly as she cried into her brother’s chest.
Another hour passed. It was getting dark. Two of the rescue team came back up to the surface, and in answer to Paul's enquiring look, shook their heads. They collected some more gear and went back down. The controller in the Landrover was talking briefly on the radio. He then climbed out of the cab and made his way over to Paul and the others.
"Where did you say you came across those bodies…can you show me on the survey map?"
"Yes…er..Here" Paul tapped the map and the man took it from him and wrote down the co-ordinates on a sheet of paper.
"Thanks, that'll save them a lot of time down there"
He returned to the cab and spoke again on the radio.
Dilly looked at Paul, and across at Pete and Carlos, then over to Mike, another of the party. No-one spoke, no-one wanted to voice their fears. They didn't want to believe they had lost me. How would they tell their parents about this, even worse, who would tell mine? Paul had almost cried as he told me this later on.

Meanwhile, back down in the caves, I shivered, I was getting cold, the air was foul and I wanted to pee. So what the heck, I stood up and peed. After all, the bats do it all the time. As the sound of trickling pee faded away I thought I heard something. It was just a faint sound somewhere in the distance. I wasn't sure if I had actually heard it or just imagined I had. I moved to the nearest tunnel.
Silence greeted me. I strained my ears, but nothing was heard.
I moved across to the other tunnel.
Again I was greeted with silence. It did occur to me right then that if there was some carnivorous cave-dweller I had just advertised where I was. The thought of this sent me into panic. I gasped and clutched at the walls, I began to feel that the cave was getting smaller by the second and I would be crushed. This, coupled with the fear of a vicious blood thirsty attack from the darkness, was a test of my sanity.

I was told later that in the tunnel just beyond the lake, Murray, Senior Search & Rescue Officer stopped, raised his hand a second.
"Did you hear something?"
"No, nothing" replied one of the others.
"I can't quite say what, but I thought I heard a voice in the distance."
"Wind," said the man just behind him.
Just at that moment the radio crackled into life.
"Search Leader, do you receive Control…over"
It was their commander, up top, in the cab of the Landrover.
"Receiving Control, go ahead….over" replied Murray
"Proceed to map reference Golf Alpha 32367 Echo Tango - look for four bodies, be warned there is some decomposition, and stay alert, we don’t know how they died."
"Roger, received and understood."
The men had then trudged on.

I had heard this crackling radio in the distance, and that was what prompted me to shout out, but my voice was too muffled by the twists and turns within the tunnels.

Twenty minutes more went by. Back up on the surface Dilly was becoming very emotional. "Oh why did we run off and leave him. You never gave me a torch, now look…" she pointed accusingly at Paul and sobbed, tears streaming down her soft skin.
"Dilly…." Paul began to say something, but then was lost for words. What could he say?
The commander got out of the Landrover and walked over to the cave entrance. Paul started to move towards him. He raised his hand to indicate that Paul should stop and stay where he was.
A head appeared at the top and one of the rescuers quickly climbed out. He spoke intensely with the commander for a few minutes and then they both began to pull on the rope. A rhythmic sound made them look up into the sky over the top of the Landrover. In the distance there was a small dot, growing larger and the sound of an engine could be heard. An air-ambulance had been called, and would land in a few minutes.

The waiting teenagers all looked back at the entrance to the cave as a small cage appeared with something strapped to it wrapped in black plastic. One of the bodies was being brought out. The commander was holding a mask over his face and the other man was gasping a little as he gulped in fresh air. Together they removed the wrapped body and laid it on the ground. My friends had apparently become very emotional at this stage, they wanted to know, was this me or not, the suspense was almost too much for them. Paul told me how he'd had to hang onto Dilly to stop her rushing to see for herself.
The cage was lowered down again.
The commander walked over towards Paul, motioned him to meet him half way and at the same time indicating the others should stay where they were.
As they met, the commander looked grave and Paul's heart was in his mouth.
"You said there were four bodies in that cave, is that right?"
"Yes, we saw four bodies."
"Well, we found five - now I don't want to jump to conclusions, just to prepare you for the worst."
"Thank you for telling me, I would rather the others didn't get that information until it's necessary."
"I agree, I'll keep you posted - how old was, er, is your friend Rob?"
"Seventeen I think"
"How tall, what build?"
"About five seven, 130 kilos, quite muscular around the chest and upper arms, runners legs," He laughed a little, "rugby player you see…"
"OK - I'll be in touch."

He swiftly returned to the entrance to help Murray haul up the next body.
The helicopter landed and two men in anti-contamination suits jumped out and retrieved the first body, quickly transporting it to the underbelly of the large craft.
"What did he say? Have they found Rob . . . he's not….?" Dilly's eyes were wide as she grasped Paul's arm.
"No, these are the bodies we found, it's not Rob"

Meanwhile back down in the caves I looked again at my watch. I'd been underground now for four hours. The sun must be quite low, if not already set. No-one had come back. I figured it was time to just get up and go, either way I couldn't stay down any longer. I stood up, stretched and tried to picture in my mind the number of turns I had made. I'd briefly seen the survey map when we were up top, but I worked out quickly that I was now in a cave that hadn't been mapped before.
"Damn!" I cursed not having a torch. I would have been happier too if I had something metallic too hit against the walls. This would serve the twofold purpose of attracting my rescuers and marking the walls for future surveys. However, I didn't have anything more than the ignition key for my bike, so that was that.
I counted from one to twelve, each time turning through a part of a circle. On the count of twelve I stepped forward, hands out in front of me. I met the wall; I turned to my left, felt along the wall until I met the opening that I knew as one of the tunnels. I walked into it and kept on walking, hand on the wall all the time. Occasionally I met a soft body, followed by a squeak as the bat wriggled away from my touch. Occasionally I swore as I hacked my knuckles on a really sharp piece of rock. I determined that I would just carry on until I got out, or died.

Up top my friends had watched as a fourth body was emerging from the entrance and the commander approached Paul again.
"There are three men and two women, the youngest man is over twenty five - your friend isn't one of them. We will take a dog down once the bodies are taken away - but, the smell down there is - well, you know, you were there. The dog may not pick up a trail."
"Whatever you do, we're grateful for your help. Shall we come down too?"
"No, one lost kid I can handle, five, no!" then, catching sight of Paul's face, "Thanks, and don't worry, we'll find him, alive I’m sure!"
Dilly was looking intently at Paul, her eyes flicking from his left eye to his right and back again, trying to guess what was happening. Paul put his arm around her.
"Dilly -" he sighed. She sobbed.
"Dilly," he began again, "They didn't bring up Rob - so he's still alive down there."
"Oh Rob!" was all she could manage.

Back down in the cave I was getting close to panic. "Damn!" I cursed as I tripped over yet another rock. This was getting monotonous!
I heard a sound off to my right. I was sure a voice called out "ROB!" They must have heard me say 'damn'.
"HEY! HELLO! THIS IS ROB!" I yelled, and kept doing that every twenty seconds or so, all the time walking along my tunnel.
This time it was distinct, clear, I was getting closer. Then I saw the faint glow of a light.
They had found me!

Paul told me how back on the surface the commander's radio crackled.
"Rescue Control from Search Leader, do you copy …. Over"
He had leaped to his feet as the commander snapped up the microphone.
"Control to Search Leader, receiving, go ahead."
"Control. We have the missing teenager, no damage, I repeat, no damage…over"
"Search Leader, return with missing person, and thank you . . . out"
He stepped out of the cab and walked towards Paul and the other waiting teenagers.
Dilly's hand went to her mouth. Paul gulped. Carlos shifted his feet. The others just stood and looked.
The commander stood in front of them for a few seconds, looking from one to the other.
He held out his hand to Dilly. Almost mesmerised, she took his hand, all the time her eyes searching his face. His mouth broke into a grin.
"We've got him. He's fine! Will be topside in ten minutes!"
Dilly burst into tears again, this time in relief.
Paul told me that the commander smiled, he thought that perhaps he too was relieved, to have found a dead seventeen-year-old schoolboy would not have made his day any better; even worse as I was in fact only sixteen. Having to recover bodies several days old must have been bad enough, but he no doubt was relieved not to have to cope with the distress of these young friends if the outcome hadn't been good.

As we approached the surface the helicopter was pulling away with its rancid cargo; the Police would be on the scene soon to seal off the cave and forensic pathologists would be examining everything within a one-mile radius.
Murray hauled himself out of the cave entrance, reached down and pulled me up and out into the light.
"ROB!" Dilly almost screamed out as she rushed at me, a dirty figure squinting and blinking in the dying sunlight. In two strides she was with me, her arms around my neck, her lips upon mine and then all over my face. "Oh Rob, my darling, I thought I'd lost you forever, oh please don't ever do that to me again…."
"Dilly?" I said in almost disbelief between her kisses.
She stopped for a second, looked a little embarrassed, and then continued, "Well I care!"
"She does more than care!" retorted Carlos, "The girl LOVES YOU man, though I can't think why!"
"Butt out!" Paul added.

At the end of it all there had been no long-term harm done. Although down below I had been scared, and the others up top worried and equally scared, no-one was hurt. That's what mattered most.
It was well after seven by the time I got home. A very angry father greeted me. My mother had clearly been worried; the lines on her face told the story. However, I came clean, admitted that he had lied about going into town and told them what happened down the cave. They were very angry, but it was short lived and soon turned to relief that I was safe. The next day the Lusaka Chronicle carried the headline "Bodies found in local caves - Police suspect a death pact". I had read the article with interest; apparently two men and their wives had signed a death pact, gone down into the caves and seen it through. Police were investigating the connection with the fifth body. I recalled now that there never was ever any further mention of the case in the local papers.

The clatter of the waitress collecting my cup and saucer finally drew me back to the present.
Dinner over, I stood up, tears in my eyes as I thought of Dilly and how I had moved on and hardly given her a thought - heartless man! Still, it was young love, and may never have blossomed anyway. I was sure she’d found the man she deserved and was happily married somewhere. With that thought in my mind I quickly walked to my room and closed the door behind me. I stood for a few seconds in the darkness, not bothering to turn the light on. Even in what we call ‘darkness’ there is still light, unlike the real darkness of a deep cave. I realised I had become quite philosophical about it all and smiled in the semi-dark room. Then, flicking the lights on, I strode to the bathroom stripped off and took a shower, I felt exhausted by the recollection of such a traumatic experience in my youth. That really had been the worst day of my life.

I was almost asleep before I hit the bed. No dreams traversed my brain; it had had enough for the time being.
The next morning after breakfast I checked out and as I drove away from Beaumaris, I took a final look at the black patches that were the caves, and drove to Llandudno for the day’s business. At about 4:30, the week's work over I then drove home to the lovely Sara and sanctuary for the weekend. My next week's schedule had been prepared back at the office, I'd receive it as soon as I logged onto the mainframe remotely.

I had no idea what the next week would bring, the turmoil and anguish that would follow. Who did? I was just going about my business, as were so many others, blissfully unaware of the events ahead that would change so many lives forever. A globally catastrophic event was to follow.

You are reminded that all work by Bob Curby is copyrighted. FA(C)T 2007

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Comments by other Members

Richard Brown at 17:06 on 31 December 2007  Report this post

A gripping yarn with some powerful passages but I think you(literally) lost the plot about half way through. You write:

'The commander got out of the Landrover and walked over to the cave entrance. Paul started to move towards me. He raised his hand to indicate that Paul should stop and stay where he was.'

....but you're still in the cave!

It's probably to do with the change from third to first person. Which perhaps also accounts for the confusion about pov. You're stuck in the dark but, as narrator, you know all the goings-on of the rescuers, their conversations, even their feelings it seems. How? In my view it detracts from the drama of your situation if you are (so to speak) already out there.

Needs a tightening up, methinks. Some of the dialogue doesn't ring true either.

It'll definitely be worth investing some more time and effort though! It has the makings of a goodly tale.


BobCurby at 17:41 on 31 December 2007  Report this post
Richard -
Thank you, you are absolutely right as usual. Yes that was one of the 'find/replace' errors I missed.

Thinking about it again, the events up top were recounted to me by Paul while I was being checked over by the medics - so I might change the dialogue to match that, thanks for looking once again.


BobCurby at 01:46 on 01 January 2008  Report this post
I have switched perspectives across the story so that the reader is aware that I am relating what I was told by Paul after the event as well as what happened to me at the time.

Thanks for your help on this Richard - I can so easily visualize the event and I have some recollection of what Paul told me - but it's easier to see in the mind than put down on paper sometimes. I am grateful for the input of others who don't 'see' it in their minds but rely on the 'word picture' element.

Thanks eveyone - have great year!


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